I recently acquired a Tamahagane 8 inch chef's knife. I was looking for a smaller stainless chef's knife to travel with. I cook alot at friends and relatives house and a stainless knife comes in handy when you are on the go. Alot of times you don't have time to wipe and or wash your knife like you might have to do with a carbon steel knife.That is the main reason i wanted to try this one out. Stainless steel is much more user friendly in the maintenance department.The stainless in the Tamahagane knives is VG5 which is listed at a hardness of 58-59. While hardness is only one of the factors when buying a knife it is helpful to know. One of the most important factors i look at in a knife regardless of what style it is is geometry. By geometry i mean how thick or thin the knife is and if there is any distal taper in the blade. Distal Taper is a fancy way of saying the knife starts out thick and gets thinner at the tip. One thing i was surprised about is how sharp the knife was out of the box, alot of times i will have to sharpen a new knife because it doesn't come that sharp from the factory.
When I first received the knife i used it exclusively to cater a large party for about 85 people. It did great slicing and dicing onions and slicing raw and cooked proteins. I even used it to hack through the backbone of a chicken with no damage. I think the somewhat softer blade definitely helped me out in that task. I would compare this to a german knife in the fact that it is a little tougher and has a more obtuse angle at the edge but it has the beautiful geometry and thinness of a Japanese blade. This would be a great knife for someone working on the line in a restaurant or someone in the catering business.
Upon receiving the knife one of the first things i do is a visual inspection of everything. The Tamahagane knives have a very attractive handle. It is some kind of laminated wood, sort of a rosewood color. It is finished very nice with no gaps or rough spots. For a knife in this price range I was impressed with the finish. there were only two small complaints I would have with the knife in the finish department. On the back of the handle there is a small stainless circle that is flush with the wood handle. I imagine that it is part of the tang and it aids in balancing the knife. The other is the choil area and the spine of the knife had somewhat sharp corners. Mind you I am being nit-picky here. A dollar piece of sandpaper from the hardware store would easily round off the spine and the stainless dot in the butt of the handle is visual only.
In regards to the edge retention of this knife I was somewhat impressed. It held its edge for quite some time. When i first get a knife I always use the knife till it is plain old dull. I like to get an idea of how long i can use the knife without any maintenance. Of course it is no comparison to a super hard Japanese blade however what you give up in hardness you gain toughness.
All in all I would give this knife a solid 8 out of 10. It has alot of the attributes of more expensive knives but in a cheaper package. It has a thin blade, sharpe edge and a nicely finished handle. I would not hesitate to recommend the Tamahagane knives to anyone looking for a solid knife that isn't going to break the bank.
By Ryan Hurley